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Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Press briefing note on Yemen

Press briefing: Yemen

19 September 2017

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Rupert Colville
Location:   Geneva
Date:  19 September 2017
Subject:   Yemen


We are very disturbed that civilians, including children, continue to be killed in attacks carried out by both the Popular Committees affiliated with the Houthis and army units loyal to the former President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, as well as by the Saudi-led coalition.

Just over the past five days, we have confirmed that three children died and seven others were injured in attacks by Houthi/Saleh forces in the Salah district of the city of Taizz; while a coalition airstrike in Marib killed a further five children along with seven adults.

The deaths in Taizz occurred on 15 September when two mortar shells were fired at civilian areas, apparently in indiscriminate attacks by Houthi/Saleh forces, at around 17:00 hrs local time.  The first mortar shell hit a house in the Shab al Dhuba area, killing two children and injuring two others as they played in the street outside.

Fifteen minutes later, a second shell hit a road in Al-Sameil Market neighborhood in the Hawdh Al-Ashraf area, about 400 metres away. Children were again in the area.  One child was killed as he returned home with groceries and five others were injured.

Our field monitors have verified that the three children who were killed were aged six, eight and 12 and the seven who were injured, were aged between eight and 13; two adults were also injured during these attacks.

In both cases witnesses believe the mortar shells were fired from positions controlled by Houthi/Saleh forces.  Witnesses also say there were no military objectives or armed groups in the areas. The nearest military site appear to have been an administration office approximately 300-400 metres away from the place where one of the shells exploded.

The coalition airstrike which also left children dead took place the following day, 16 September, in Harib Al Qaramish district in Marib.  Five children, four women and three men from the same extended family were killed when their pick-up vehicle was hit by an airstrike on a mountain trail at around 16.50 hrs local time. All the occupants of the vehicle were civilians, travelling back to their homes in Sarawah District in Marib Governorate. They had spent almost a month in Sanaa where they were seeking medical treatment. There were no survivors.

All these incidents demonstrate the horrific impact on children and families, and all civilians, of the ongoing brutal war.  Once again, we urge all sides to exercise restraint and to cease all indiscriminate attacks and take all possible precautions to properly distinguish military objectives from civilian objects and to ensure that their attacks are never directed either at civilians or civilian objects.

The total number of civilians casualties we have verified since March 2015 stands at 13,920, including 5,159 people killed and 8,761 injured. The actual numbers are likely to be far higher. And, as the High Commissioner noted in his speech to the Human Rights Council last week, coalition airstrikes continue to be the leading cause of civilian casualties, including of children.


For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 97 67 / [email protected])

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